I Can No Longer Afford To Be The Good Little Church Girl
I was just eighteen years old and had recently finished one whole semester at a college I was attending for a music degree. There were several issues regarding the challenges of me continuing on at this school at the time, but mainly I knew deep inside that this wasn't at all what I was supposed to be doing.
It was a phone conversation with my dad in which in tears I pleaded for him to let me come home, I had to come home.
His well meaning words in response have been words than stuck to my life like glue for far too long. "You can't come home, you have to stay there and finish your degree in music because that is exactly what everyone back home expects of you."
....because that is exactly what everyone expects of you.
Why? Because I had always been good at music. It was my most obvious natural gifting. It was the thing that had defined me for most of my young life. It had become what I was known for, and all too soon I had the unfortunate discovery that is was what made others proud of me.
So of course it stands to reason that music was exactly what I should do with my life. It is what everyone told me, and to be completely honest, I never questioned it.
It was my golden ticket to acceptance, especially in the church world because suddenly it meant that I became a hugely valuable asset.
I had grown up a "good" church kid. And everyone knows that good church kids do exactly what is expected of them, maintain proper outward appearance and rarely think for themselves.
I played the whole game well. Too well actually.
I was eighteen then.
Twelve years later, I am realizing that I've spent far too much of my life doing what I do based on the expectations of others.
Living life that way wears one down to the bone.
Simply put, I wanted out.
OUT of the game.
Why? Because it created a young woman who has struggled not to base her entire worth on her outward appearance, affirmation and the ability to never fail.
Fast forward from that lost, confused eighteen year old girl who found her identity everywhere but within, to a wife and mother of thirty years who is discovering herself, for her own self for the very first time.....
"Hey mommy, when are you gonna write a book?"
This was not exactly the typical off the wall question posed to me by my nine year old daughter.
What does she know? I mean, she doesn't have a clue what goes into writing a book. It takes a whole lot more than a great message and the ability to string a few words together to pull that off, because you sort of need to be able to sell a book if you're gonna write one. Maybe that is the part I fear most; that my words won't matter to anyone else.
And so I responded:
"Someday, Olivia. Maybe someday."
Then days later there was my husband, "Babe, when are you gonna start writing that book?"
He knows me best and still asks. So, ok I'm flattered but, "Are you freaking kidding me?!"
I'm really thinking, "He's practically asking me to make a complete public spectacle of myself by allowing the rest of the world a front row seat to watch me fall flat on my face! No way, no how. Nope, not biting that bait."
I can just see it all now...
"Hey, there's that loser that poured out the contents of her heart onto paper and everyone just wadded it up and threw it the nearest waste basket! She probably should have just stuck to teaching piano or something normal and safe."
It is my default. Doing what is safe insulates me from the searing pain of failure and disappointment. It is how I hide. Growing up a church kid has trained me well.
My fear of doing this one tiny thing is only a small representation of a larger fear that has threatened to blanket my entire life and smother anything bigger than myself that I might have had the potential to do or be.
A great part of me still struggles to break free from the timid little church girl on her piano bench, afraid to venture outside of the narrowly defined boundaries set for her.